Kolkata, May 9 (IANS) Former doubles star Mahesh Bhupathi on Tuesday reminisced about the heydays shared with doubles partner Leander Paes and asserted that what the pair have achieved for Indian tennis won’t ever be replicated.
“Let’s put controversies aside. What we achieved as a team between 1996-2002 will never be replicated in Indian tennis,” the non-playing captain of the Indian Davis Cup team said on the sidelines of a book launch here.
“Two kids coming up from below 100 to be No.1 is amazing. Things didn’t work out for various reasons. We have tried a lot of times and I don’t think you can fault us for not trying.
“We kept giving our best shot because we know how special a relationship it is for not just us but the country as well,” said Bhupathi, who formed a formidable doubles partnership with Paes for over 16 years and won 25 ATP doubles title together, including three Grand Slams.
In the Davis Cup, the duo stitched together a comprehensive record of 23 doubles rubber victories on the trot, right up to the 2010 World Group Play-offs against Brazil that India won 3-2.
Recently, the estranged pair washed their dirty linen in public, taking pot shots at each other following India’s 4-1 win over Uzbekistan in the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group 1 Round 2 match in Bengaluru.
Bhupathi termed his former partner ‘unprofessional’ for ‘sulking’ after being dropped from the team, and leaving the tie midway through.
India’s top-ranked doubles player Rohan Bopanna and Paes had been in contention for the only doubles spot available in the three-singles-one-doubles combination Bhupathi had opted for.
Paes accused Bhupathi of showing bias while Bhupathi revealed a Whatsapp exchange the two had shared where Paes had promised to be part of the six-member team even if he did not make the cut of four.
India will take on Canada in the Davis Cup World Group Playoff in what would be an away tie from September 15 to 17. Asked whether there is a chance of Paes being included in the team, Bhupathi said: “We will see. We have a very tough match against Canada in September. We have a chance of going into the World Group.”
On Indian tennis being on an upward spiral, Bhupathi said: “We are going in the right direction. We have a lot of players ranked between 200-300 now. Indian tennis is at its best depth today. So hopefully a couple of those players will make the next transition and into the top 100 which is what makes the difference for us.”